A long list of questions for leaders to ask

Questions can help us to see ourselves, coworkers and organisations more clearly, according to Gary Cohen in his book Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions. The author describes the concept of “question-based leadership”, in which, instead of giving instructions, a leader leads by asking the right questions, thereby empowering his or her followers or “coworkers” to exercise creativity and become more productive.

It is an interesting premise; however, instead of expanding on the premise, the book consists of numerous questions, each with a brief explanation. The questions are structured into chapters on vision, accountability, building unity and cooperation, decision-making and motivation. It is important to avoid “gotcha” questions and questions which are merely asked to make a point because the questioner already knows the answer.

In my view the book contains some interesting leadership advice. It takes a distinctively egalitarian and respectful approach towards a leader’s subordinates. It emphasises the importance of devolving responsibility. But ultimately the list-of-questions style, although it may work for leaders, does not in my opinion work very well for creating a readable well-ordered book.

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